Mr. Dark
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Starflight cover

Starflight takes place in the year 4620. Mankind had been traveling through space since the year 2100 or so, which there had been various events that had occurred during that time in regards to wars, Earth being abandoned/humans relocating and meeting various spacefaring races, etc.

Presently there is a crisis in regards to solar flares occurring in the galaxy that mankind (and several alien species) currently reside in, so it is up to the player to travel throughout this galaxy, referring hospitable new planets in case of possible future relocation for Interstel (the spacefaring agency that the player is a member of), making money to upgrade their ship with, and gathering information from alien species in hopes of solving the solar flares mystery before all is lost.

The player only has one life, so it is imperative to save the game often, although games can go on for months, possibly even years of just exploring the galaxy and making notes of everything.

The game was created by Binary Systems and published by Electronic Arts in 1986.

Starting out/Arth StarportEdit

The player begins their game in the Arth Starport with a set starting amount of monetary units. The Starport has a Notices section that displays messages and Evaluations in regards to certain events that could transpire during the game. The Notices section should be checked frequently, as there are warnings about certain areas of space to be avoided that could be dangerous, locations of important artifacts on planets, flux locations (i. e. wormholes), and more. Evaluations occur when a player has recommended a world for colonization and they will be briefed on the outcome of such recommendations, or when the player does something wrong, like run out of fuel with their Terrain Vehicle (see Exploring, planets section).

There is also a Trade Depot here, which, after a journey of mining a planet for minerals and/or collecting life forms and artifacts, they can be sold here. The player can also buy back certain materials that they may need later. There is also a Bank where the player can check their balance and monetary transactions that were completed.

The player must assemble and train a crew to begin their journey, along with buying/repairing various items for their ship, which, once all initial preparations have been made, the player then proceeds to the Docking Bay to start traveling throughout the galaxy.

Creating a crewEdit

There are several positions on the ship that need to be filled, along with personnel files to be created in the first place as well. Races to choose from for these positions include Humans, Androids, the Velox, Thrynn, and Elowan alien species. All races have Durability, Learning Rates, and various Aptitudes that need to be considered when assigning them to positions on the ship, which include a Science (to understand important readings before attempting to land on a planet), Navigation (to keep track of the player's ship's position in space), Engineering (to repair the ship once it gets damaged) and Communications (to communicate with alien species) Officers, as well as a Doctor (to heal injured crew members). All personnel must be trained (except for an Android, who has hard-wired programming and cannot increase its skill levels of any sort) in order to excel at their positions, as this could result in problems as the player progresses through the game if their crew does not have adequate training. All personnel positions must be filled in order for the player to start their mission.

Ship preparationsEdit

In the Ship Configuration area, cargo pods, shields, armor, engines and weapons can be purchased for the ship in order to help the player deal with space travel (note: the ship does start off with class one engines at the beginning of a game). The higher the class of an item, the more effective it will be (i. e. the higher an engine class, the better they will perform, as the ship will travel further with less fuel required than with a lower class engine). Ship items can be purchased, repaired or sold here, and the ship must be given a name in order for the player to really start their game.

Exploring, spaceEdit

Once the player has launched their ship from Starport and have given the Navigator the order to move the ship about in space, once in hyperspace (which is accomplished by exiting a solar system by flying off an edge of it), a Starmap can be utilized, showing all of the solar systems in the universe, except for several that are concealed in several large nebulas. The Starmap will calculate the distance and how much fuel it will take for the player to reach a destination automatically by moving the cursor around the screen with the directional keys on a keyboard.

(Note: a printed Starmap was also included with the game when it was released.)

While in space, the player can send a distress signal, arm weapons/enter combat, raise shields, look through and eject cargo, communicate with an alien race or signal sent by other spacecraft, collect items from space debris after a battle, have the doctor examine and/or treat injured crew members, pilot the ship, keep a log, and enter solar systems and fluxes by guiding their ship into them.

(Note: many of these actions depend on the situation or if applicable.)

A flux can save the player on a lot of fuel and time by transporting their ship from one area of the galaxy to another; some only cover a short distance, while others can be very long. However, the display part of the screen could be garbled for several seconds until the Navigator gets their bearings if they haven't been trained enough, which can bring problems if the player hits a wormhole to a dangerous area of space and is met by hostile aliens upon exiting the flux.

Alien races and communicatingEdit

Once the player starts making their way around the galaxy, they are going to run into aliens sooner or later, and in order to obtain clues in order to eventually win the game, they are going to have to communicate with them, as the ship's Communicator is going to have to be trained well in order to understand them, or else messages that come from aliens are going to come out not making any sense.

The player has a choice between three Postures to choose from in order to communicate once a link has been established; they are Friendly (self explanatory), Obsequious (super polite to the verge of worship), and Hostile (responses are mean-spirited and usually threaten destruction from the player's end). Certain postures and mannerisms will work with various races (the Velox are happy when you ask questions about themselves, since they are civilized "the most" in their own eyes when compared to anyone else), although the Friendly posture usually works best in general. The player can also just use the Statement command that automatically makes a random short speech, such as wishing a race that their and the player's young will someday play together in "harmony".

Exploring, planetsEdit

Exploring planets is vital for the player to earn money to continue with the game, whether it be for selling valuable minerals, artifacts and/or life forms to the Trade Depot later, and/or recommending good potential colony worlds to Interstel.

In order to orbit a planet, all the player needs to do is guide their ship into it; next the planet needs to be scanned and then determined from there if the planet is worth either landing on and/or recommending. The Science Officer needs to have some halfway decent training at this point in order to be able to make sense of the readings, some of which include how high the mineral content a planet has, what minerals can be found on the planet, if the planet has life, oxygen and/or water content, and so forth.

If the planet has a decent amount of minerals, it's definitely worth it to land to scoop up as many as possible; say if the planet's small to medium-sized, has 20% or more mineral content, those minerals consist of gold, platinum and rodnium (all worth a bunch), and the planet has either no or calm weather, then the player is probably going to have a pretty good haul.

Once the player lands, they can disembark with their Terrain Vehicle, which scans the planet's surface with every few kilometers it travels, which new mineral outcroppings will show up on the map. The player can scan an outcropping (marked by an icon) to see if it's worth picking up, then maneuver the vehicle to collect it. The vehicle is limited on energy and the player must return to the ship before it runs out and/or when it gets full of possessions (if possible), or else without any energy, they could lose the vehicle, have crew members get hurt or killed if the vehicle has to be abandoned and they have to walk back to the ship, and the player will be fined by Interstel once they return to Starport. (Also, there can be earthquakes and various bad weather that will cause the Terrain Vehicle to use up more energy to navigate through and crew members can also be hurt, if not killed because of this as well.)

Also, some planets can have life forms about, which many of them can be stunned and collected to return to the Trade Depot and sold (although stunning doesn't apply to plant life, like trees and fungus forms, for example). Some life forms can attack and injure, or possibly even kill crew members, and some life forms can only be killed, rather than stunned. Floating and flying life forms cannot be captured, as there is a list of Icons as part of the menu at the bottom of the screen that the player can look at to see what the various game icons mean while on planetside.

Planets can also have ruins, various artifacts to collect and sell, and some messages can be found in the ruins too, some of which are humorous, whereas others have clues and locations in regards to various objects that can help the player eventually win the game.

Also, some worlds can be recommended for future habitation later, which they have to have oxygen and usually water in their atmosphere, gravity can't be too heavy, and the weather can't be too extreme. Recommending a good colony world will result in a big bonus, but recommending one that doesn't measure up to standards will result in a fine, which the player will be made aware of when they return to Starport and read the Evaluations.

The endEdit

If the player is able to gather the right clues and has enough fuel and resources, they could be able to beat the game by acquiring an object known as a Black Egg, a Crystal Cone, and a Crystal Orb. They must fly to a certain planet and leave a Black Egg there, which the mystery behind the solar flares (along with the true nature of Endurium, which is a big twist) is revealed in a message in some ruins on the planet, stating that Endurium, which was used for fuel, actually turned out to be a race of aliens known as the Ancients. The Black Egg would destroy the planet and cease the solar flares from happening.


  • This original version of the game took the equivalent of 15 man-years to develop. It was later ported to the Sega Genesis, Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64 and Macintosh.
  • When it was originally released, the game came with the game disk, a printed Starmap, an instruction book, and several versions of the game (the DOS and Amiga versions) also included a decoder wheel, which had a row of planet names, objects, and races. Whenever the player was about to launch from Starport, the computer would ask for a code in regards to turning the dial a certain way and asking for a number in the alien races section. If the player didn't have the wheel or gave the incorrect number the computer asked for, they would find themselves surrounded by Interstel police at one point, and they could be blown to pieces and the game would end if they couldn't escape the cops or provide the correct code.
  • Some of the versions had minor differences, such as the Amiga version had an automining command that the player could use, the Amiga, Atari ST and Macintosh versions had mouse support (the original PC version didn't), and there were no holographic captures of life forms on planets with the Commodore 64 version. However, with the Sega Genesis version, the game was given a complete overhaul, having voice synthesis, a redesigned Starport, much more money to begin with, many more items could be bought for the Terrain Vehicle, players had to mine planets for minerals, rather than look for outcroppings, space travel was far easier and faster this time around, among many other changes.